This is another amazing story which I found in The Reader's Digest about generosity. I know this is long overdue... I finally found the Disember 2010 issue after searching for it in the pile of things after moving in here late last year.
Chen Shu-Chu is just a vegetable seller at Tai-tung county's Central Market, Taiwan. She inherited the stall from her father. Her earnings are only marginal profits. Yet, in March 2010, Fobes magazine named her one of 48 outstanding philanthropists from the Asia-Pacific region. Time magazine, 100 influential people has selected Chen as 'Heroes of Philantropy' category. She personally receive this award in New York, after much convincing by President Ma and foreign minister, because all she care about is her vegetable stall.
Why is this vegetable seller in the spotlight? Her frugality...(zuhud???) With such small earnings she has manage to donate more than NT$10 million (USD 339,823) towards charitable causes, including helping schools, orphanages and poor children.
How did she manage to do that? Born in 1950, Chen lost her mother after completing her primary school. Her mother was admitted to hospital due to difficulties in labour and the family had to pay an insurance of NT$5000 (USD 160) before medical attention could be granted. Chen saw her father asking their neighbours for money but it was too late to save her mother. The eldest daughter in the family, Chen had to grow up overnight. She gave up her studies and dedicated her life helping at the vegetable stall.When she was 18, her younger brother fell sick and the illness dragged over a year, depleting the family savings. Huang Shun-zhong a teacher at Ren-ai Primary School started a donation drive, unfortunately her brother could not be saved.
After experiencing the kindness bestowed upon her family, Chen made up her mind to help the poor once she is able.When her father passed away 18 years ago, Chen donated NT$1 million (USD 32,140) to Fo Guan Shan Monastery, Chen is a Buddhist. In 2000 she donated NT$1 million to her alma mater Ren-ai Primary School, to set up an "Emergency Relief Fund" to help poor children obtained financial help. I would not elaborate further on her donations here.
How can a mere vegetable seller earn so much? Chen says " Spend only on what you need, and you'll be able to save up a lot". She has no worldy desires, her work is her enjoyment. All she need is a place to sleep, the rest is luxury according to Chen. Her daily meals cost less than NT$100 (USD3.20): a bowl of vegetarian rice and a bowl of noodles for NT$ 55 (USD1.80). Freeze whatever that she cannot finished...She also sleeps on the hard floor, the comfort of a warm bed made getting up difficult.
Chen says "My philosophy in life is simple: If doing something makes you worried, then it must be wrong thing.If it makes you happy, then you must have done the right thing". How far this is true is Islamic perspectives I leave it to my incredible friends to decide. How can anybody now live without iphone and laptops....Can we actually live like this?
Abu' l-Abbas as-Sa'idi said :
“A man came to the Prophet (saws) and said, 'Oh Messenger of Allah! Guide me to such an action, that when I do it, Allah will love me and the people will love me. He said, be detached from this world and then Allah will love you and do not be attracted to what people have and then the people will love you''.
related by Hasan, ibn Majah kitab az-Zuhud 2/1373
This hadith shows that Allah loves those who live simply in this life. It has been said that if having love for Allah is the best state to be in, then living simply is the best condition to be in.
Living simply means that you should restrain your desire for worldly things in the hope of receiving something better instead. In order to achieve this more easily you should first realise that the things which people yearn for in this world are infact worthless when compared with what we hope for in the next world.